Monday, October 11, 2010

Museum days II

kw: photographs, museums, fine art

Convexed by Will Wilson was our window on a different world today at the Brandywine River Museum. My museum-happy relative and I had planned on visiting two museums today, but this one occupied all our time until he had to catch his train in midafternoon. We had gone there specifically to see the Wyeth exhibits of all three generations. That we did, then on the storey below we were quite taken by the exhibit Reality Check: Contemporary American Trompe l'Oeil Painting. Photography is not permitted in the museum galleries, so I obtained these images from the museum's web sites.

This painting typifies what many think of as Trompe l'Oeil ("fool the eye"): photographic detail, an experience of full depth (the frame is painted: everything you see here is on a flat canvas), complex subjects, and a sense that the painting is emerging from the canvas. The next image takes that last verb a step further:

Emergence by Mikel Glass seems to bring the subject right through a canvas, painted on canvas (!), and apparently nailed to a plain frame (but the frame is also painted on). I noticed that many of the paintings in this exhibit had apparent light effects such as the shadow of the man's leg here. The spot lighting in the gallery was placed to enhance the effect; if that leg were really sticking out of the canvas, the light was placed so that the shadow is in the right place.

While we saw a superb exhibit of Howard Pyle's work yesterday in Delaware, The Nation Makers is probably his most famous work, and is at the Brandywine. This is part of the permanent exhibit American Illustrators. Pyle was N. C. Wyeth's mentor and Wyeth's early commissioned canvases for Treasure Island (he was 29) are also on display nearby.

Of course I won't forego showing one Wyeth, The Raven by Jamie Wyeth, who is just a year older than I and has clearly spent those years well. This is my all time favorite Wyeth painting.

At lunch, my wife remarked that this reminded her of the years we spent in South Dakota. We visited Mount Rushmore once on our own, but whenever a relative visited, that is where we would take them, that and other spots that we might never visit without the added stimulus of the visitor(s). It was great to take a day off of work and see a couple lovely, smaller museums with stellar collections of their own.

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